Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS, with over 2200 employed in mid and south Essex. In the main they are degree level professions and are independent professionals within the health and care.
AHPs work with all age groups and within all specialities, they cover a wide number of professions working in partnership with health and social care colleagues across primary, secondary, and social care, as well as in the independent and voluntary sectors, in people’s homes, clinics, surgeries and schools.
Ashley Reed, MSc MResCP BSc (Hons) MCPara, Paramedic Consultant Practitioner, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
I was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire and grew up in a little town called March. I now live in Westcliff-on-Sea with my girlfriend and our working cocker spaniel Maggie. I enjoy watching movies at home and the cinema, cooking, entertaining friends and family and I have recently started Parkruns and calisthenics to combat the ‘dad bod’ – despite not being a dad yet!
Becoming a paramedic
While at school, I enjoyed science so did biology A level (along with chemistry and maths), but the focus was mainly on plants, and I wanted to understand the human body. I decided I wanted to become a doctor, yet I was told that it would not be possible leaving me feeling really disappointed. But I knew I wanted to help people.
After leaving school I worked as a care assistant in a unit looking after patients with dementia. This reinforced my want to work in health and care, deepen my knowledge and take on a role that can make a difference to people when people are the most vulnerable.
It was at this point that I decided to train as a paramedic, and I applied and got a place at University of Hertfordshire to study a BSc (Hons) in Paramedic Science. I loved the course, which really embedded a bug for learning, and I ended up being awarded the university prize for overall best student.
Career development in the NHS
My first role was with London Ambulance Service as a paramedic, I worked in an ambulance, a fast response car, on a bicycle during the London Olympics, on foot in public events and finally in the control centre as a clinical team leader.
I still wanted to keep developing myself, so in 2016 I secured a job at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust in Southend as a trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner. I undertook as many courses as possible and completed the MSc in Advanced Practice. I also completed the prestigious Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) ACP curriculum in adults and paediatrics while working as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner.
I recently became a Consultant Practitioner (Paramedic) working on improving care for paediatrics, urgent treatment centre pathways, front door streaming and flow, reviewing policies and procedures, delivering education and seeing lots of patients still!
I also am a visiting lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire. My latest educational endeavour I want to work towards is a professional doctorate in 2024 looking at Neuroprotective Resuscitation following on from research coming from Minnesota.
Changing the patient experience
In my new role at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, I want to focus on five pillars of consultant practice, expert practice, strategic leadership, research and innovation, education and providing consultancy.
Through developing the workforce of Emergency Care Advanced Clinical Practitioners working towards RCEM credentials, we can ensure that they are autonomous, confident, and competent practitioners fit for whatever the emergency department throws at them!
Also, I hope to challenge practice at strategic levels to enhance patient experience. This may be in the community working with primary care, or when they attend the emergency department or bypassing it, through directly attending a speciality service (for example, Same Day Emergency Care).
I also feel passionate about my research and wish to combine that with my clinical practice and share best practice. Finally, I enjoy teaching so want to develop the healthcare professionals of the future by continuing teaching at university, on life support courses and in-house for all staff.
The changing role of a paramedic
Most people think of paramedics and think we are all out in ambulances rushing from one emergency to another. Ambulance staff have been around since before the First World War. but, over the last 50 to 60 years the role has changed and evolved to become registered paramedics alongside other professional roles, treating people and providing care in the home or at an incident, rather than transporting them for treatment.
In reality, you can now find paramedics in a GP surgery, as part of the wider care provided within communities, providing remote care in call centres, lecturing in academic roles, undertaking research, working in prisons, police custody, on oil rigs, leading critical care teams, expedition medics amongst many other areas and environments. The possibilities are virtually endless, and they add their unique expertise to innovating healthcare and improving the long-term health of their patients.
Why become a paramedic?
This job is varied, it’s not just about ambulances; it’s really interesting and it really gets the adrenaline going. You will experience great camaraderie with people from across society and while it can be traumatic, as you see people at their most vulnerable and scared – but you can make a difference in a life and death situation which is incredibly rewarding.
I love being a paramedic and I would encourage anyone who is considering a role in health and care to consider becoming a paramedic. I love the pressure, but I also now value the opportunity to give back to paramedic-led care and not just help ten people as I did as a paramedic on call, but potentially improve the care for hundreds through this strategic role making clinical changes for the future.
Just go for it! Gaining registration is just the start and the options are so varied – it is a ticket to a varied and exciting future!
Want to find out more?
If you’d like to know more about AHP roles and career options such including becoming a paramedic, you can find out more by visiting one of the following sites:
- Health and care careers and jobs in Essex – Our People Your Future | Be The future of health and care in Essex
- About the AHP Paramedic role – NHS Healthcare careers
- Becoming a qualified Paramedic – Home (collegeofparamedics.co.uk)
- About AHP roles – https://www.england.nhs.uk/ahp/role/